KATHMANDU, June 27: Monday, June 25, 2012: It is 11:35 pm. Outside Norvic Hospital and Prasuti Griha in Thapathali, a white Control Room Van (CRV) is on standby.
Three teashops and a pharmacy store are open, catering to customers who have their dear ones put up in the two hospitals. Suddenly, a blue police van speeds in and pulls over beside the CRV.
Pramod, one of the teashop owners, hurriedly returns the change to a couple who’ve come for milk for their hospitalized kin and asks his helper to pull down the shutter. Crossing the road, Police Inspector Shyam Mahato of the Metropolitan Police Sector, Singha Durbar walks straight toward Pramod and grabs him by the collar. Pramod immediately apologizes, his hands supplicated, and hurriedly pulls down the shutter.
The inspector moves on to the next tea shop and the intimidation repeats. He then crosses the road to get to the car but only to return to the shop in a jiffy and starts slapping the teashop owner. After slapping him nine times, the inspector threatens him, “You dare not open the shop, alright? You dare not.”
“From tomorrow, you are dead closed after 10 pm. You hear me?”
The slapped teashop owner, his hands supplicated, nods.
Metropolitan Police Range Spokesperson DSP Dhiraj Pratap Singh says, “For security reasons, there is a restriction for businesses to open in many parts of the Valley but there is no restriction outside hospital areas.”
“For convenience of those who have their kin in the hospital, we have in fact, on mutual understanding lifted the restriction. We will immediately run an inquiry on what has happened.”
Govinda Bandi, human rights lawyer affiliated with International Commission of Jurists says, “Citing security reasons, the police can enforce a time limit as per the time limitations of transaction hours demarcated by the Department of Industries but it is not the job of the police to forcefully shut down a business as long as it is not a crime scene and unless there is a security threat.”
“The inspector’s act is a serious violation. The Police Act and Niyamawali, both state that the police personnel on duty will behave decently but the inspector here has verbally abused the teashop owner and has even used violence.”
“The various law and order guidelines and directives demand that the police personnel respect the rights of the citizens and behave decently. The inspector has clearly violated the teashop owner’s rights. The Human Rights Cell of Nepal Police should take serious action against the inspector. This is gross violation of human rights and there is a provision to take action against him.”
Chief District Officer Chudamani Sharma is appalled when the incident is brought to his knowledge and laments on the inspector’s actions. “I will run an inquiry on this,” he says.
“If the teashops outside hospital areas are catering to the patients and their dear ones and are not selling alcohol and cigarettes, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Defending his position, Inspector Mahato on the other hand says, “I did not misbehave. I went there personally to shut down the teashops since even after repeated requests; they didn’t comply.”